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ArrowArrow EPS and the Environment > Greenhouse gases

Greenhouse Effects

The greenhouse effect is caused by the accumulation of gases in the atmosphere (basically C02) which allow the passage of solar radiation while stopping the escape into space of earth-reflected radiation on a differential wave-length. This phenomenon provokes widely termed "Global Warming" and all the dire consequences that go with it. Scientists and environmental experts agree that the most effective way of combating global warming would be to reduce C02 emissions as much as possible since this gas has more influence on the greenhouse effect than all the other pollutants put together. 80% of total carbon dioxide emissions come from burning fossil fuels. Both domestic and industrial heating in particular account for a yearly discharge into the atmosphere of 620 million tons of C02 in Western Europe alone. Horrendous, Isn't it? In solving this problem EPS is an important ally. Appropriate EPS thermal insulation contributes to reducing the energy needs of buildings and this can reduce C02 emissions by up to 50%. Moreover, this reduction will be constant over the whole of the product's life.

Most fossil fuels contain sulphur and produce S02 and S03 when burnt. These react with humidity to produce acid compounds which cause the phenomenon known as "acid rain". The energy saving that accrues from EPS thermal insulation make it possible to use less fuel and hence contribute to efforts to lessen the impact of problems which cause "acid rain".

People's surroundings are also an environmental matter. EPS products applied to buildings contribute to maintaining a constant temperature in homes and spaces and also help avoid the nuisance of noise i.e. the acoustic pollution which affects these sites. In this way people are made to feel comfortable in their homes and at the work-place.


Perhaps this is the most obvious environmental benefit of the use of EPS packaging; It is a very light material, highly resistant to compression, has a high shock resistance coefficient and is easy to handle with total safety. All of this makes it the perfect protection for products during transport. EPS packaging, contrary to what happens with other heavier materials, does not add excess weight to transport and companies can fore transport the products more cheaply and reduce fuel consumpllon. It then becomes clear that products with Expanded Polystyrene packaging saves transport fuel, less fuel = less emissions of pollutants and less cost in terms of natural non-renewable raw materials.

Why are production costs optimised? Simply because their ability to provide integrated protection for any type of product reduces in-transit wastage of goods. This reduction in wastage (breakages, deterioration caused by temperature changes etc…) means not having to produce a high percentage of new products to substitute damaged ones. Product manufacture calls for energy, and, depending on the product, its production generates waste and has a certain impact on the environment. So, if any part of production has to be replaced because of wastage or defective components then there is a direct effect on energy consumption and a greater impact on the environment than the production process pre-supposes. EPS protection avoids these problems, hence optimising production costs.

It is important to highlight this characteristic of EPS because it helps us to understand that the evaluation of the environmental impact of a product should be done with a very broad view. It should take account of the product's life-cycle and the characteristics of the surroundings and of other products and human activities connected wit h it.

This characteristic is what allows it to retain its qualities throughout the whole of its useful life so that it can be handled without the need for any special precautions nor any risk to workers. Furthermore, this is an important feature when the material is used to package food products. It means it can come into direct contact with food without the food being subject to any change in taste or smell and it meets all the health and hygiene regulations and dictates of all the most advanced countries.

From floats and lifesavers, not forgetting medical packaging or coolers for transporting organs, all of these are applications where EPS "does its bit" towards saving life.


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